I am formerly incarcerated and want to get a CA state ID. How do I apply?

There are 2 types of California state ID cards: (1) regular state ID cards, which are good for 6 years, and (2) senior state ID cards, for people 62 years and older, which are good for 10 years.

    If you have never had a California state ID card, you will need to apply for a new card.
    If you had a California ID state ID card in the past, but it expired, you will need to apply for a new card.
    If you had a California state ID card in the past and it has not expired (it’s still good), you will need to apply for a duplicate card.

The process and the application form are the same for all 3 situations. Follow the steps below!

Find a DMV office near you. You must apply for a state ID in person at the DMV.

There are 179 local DMV field offices throughout the state.[68] You can find the office closest to you by calling the DMV directly at: 1-800-777-0133, or by looking up field offices on the DMV’s website at: http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/fo/fotoc.htm. The DMV website offers both a city-by-city directory[69] and a “regional map”[70] where you can search for a field office by your home address.

Prepare the required information and documents you need to bring to the DMV office. You will need:

    Your Social Security Number (SSN)[71] — You must provide a 9-digit SSN to the DMV (with one small exception explained below). You do not need to show your actual Social Security card; you just need to know your number.[72] (If you don't have or don’t know your SSN, go to PG. 38 to learn how to get one and start that process first.)

ONE SMALL EXCEPTION: If you are a noncitizen, you don’t need to bring a SSN to the DMV if you are legally present[73] in the United States (meaning living in the United States under lawful status), and you don’t have a SSN because you aren’t authorized to work.[74] If this is your situation, you can still apply for a California state ID as long as you prove your birth date and legal presence, as described below.[75]

    Proof of your birth date and legal presence[76]

Whether you have a SSN or not, you must prove your birth date and legal presence in the United States to get a state ID. The DMV accepts many kinds of documents for this purpose, depending on your situation. Examples include:

    If you are a U.S. citizen: An authorized U.S. birth certificate, U.S. military ID, certificate of U.S. naturalization or citizenship,[77] or certification from CDCR or Parole.[78]
    If you are NOT a U.S. citizen: A valid foreign passport with valid I-94;[79] permanent resident alien card (“green card”); U.S. border crossing card with valid I-94;[80] refugee travel document; or judge’s order granting you asylum.[81]
    Here is complete list of documents the DMV accepts to prove legal presence: U.S. birth certificate; U.S. passport; U.S. Armed Forces ID card; Certificate of Naturalization; Permanent Resident card; or foreign passport with a valid I-94 (the I-94 expiration date must be at least 2 months past the driver license/ID card application date). See Appendix H, PG. 103 for a full list of acceptable documents.

Go to your local DMV office to submit your application and pay the fee.

    Have your information and documents ready, and complete the Application Form (Form DL 44) if you have not already. Make sure you provide a reliable and accurate mailing address that will be good for at least 60 days where you can receive your California state ID.[82]
    At the DMV, you will be asked to give your thumbprint and have your photo taken.[83]

FEE PAYMENT: Unless you qualify for a fee waiver, pay $28 by cash, check, money order, or debit card (not credit card). FEE WAIVERS ARE AVAILABLE IN THE FOLLOWING SITUATIONS: (1) If you bring proof that you receive public assistance, you can get a Reduced Fee ID for $8 (see PG. 47);[84] (2) If you are over age 62, you can get a Senior ID for FREE; and (3) If you are homeless, you can get a few ID. Read more in the box below!



To get a REDUCED-FEE STATE ID (which is $8), you must bring proof to the DMV that you receive public benefits. First, have someone who can verify that you receive benefits fill out DMV Form DL 937 and then bring it to the DMV.If you receive public benefits such as CalWORKs, CalFresh, or General Assistance/General Relief (“GA/GR”), you may qualify for the reduced fee state ID.[85] Go to the county office that manages your public benefits, and ask for someone there to fill out and sign the DMV form called “Verification for Reduced Fee Identification Card” (DMV Form DL 937)—read more in Appendix F, PG. 99). Bring the completed and signed form with you to the DMV.[86] Alternatively, if you receive services from a nonprofit organization in California that helps people apply for public benefits — like a health clinic, legal services provider, etc. — you can ask if a staff person at the nonprofit is able to fill out and sign DMV Form 937. If you qualify, you will pay $8 instead of the standard $28 fee for your state ID![87]To get a FREE ID, you must have an attorney or a non-profit or government homeless services provider fill out DMV Form DL 933 showing that you are homeless, and then bring this form to the DMV.If you are homeless you should be able to get a free California ID card.[88] Please note that the definition of homeless is very broad—it can include people who are about to lose their homes; don’t have a stable place to stay; or have to leave where they live do to a life-threatening situation.[89] You will need a “homeless services provider” (usually a non-profit or government agency) or a lawyer fill out the “No Fee Identification Card Eligibility Verification” (DMV Form DL 933), and bring that form to the DMV with you—read more in Appendix F, PG. 99).

Receive your temporary ID, and wait for your official state ID card to come by mail.

After you have submitted your application and paid the fee, DMV staff will print a temporary paper ID for you. You can use this temporary paper ID until your official California state ID card arrives in the mail. HOWEVER, your temporary ID will not have your photo on it, so it usually won’t be accepted as proof of your identity. Your California state ID will be valid for 6 years.[90]



As of January 1, 2015, if you cannot provide proof of legal presence in the United States, but otherwise qualify for a California driver license, you can apply for a “non-ID” driver license. If you hold this license, you can legally drive a motor vehicle in California; but it does not prove legal presence in the United States for any purpose.[91] Read more about other forms of ID in California for undocumented people on PG. 1109.

  1. 68

    DMV Public Offices by Location, Cal. DMV, http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/fo/offices/toc_fo.htm.

  2. 69

    See DMV Public Offices by Location, Cal. DMV, http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/fo/offices/toc_fo.htm.

  3. 70

    See DMV Regional Maps, Cal. DMV, http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/web/fomap.html.

  4. 71

    13 Cal. Code Regs. § 15.04; Cal. Veh. Code §§ 1653.5(a)(b), 12800(a), 12801.

  5. 72

    Cal. Veh. Code § 12801(2).

  6. 73

    For the California DMV’s full definition of “legal presence,” see Limited Term for Legal Presence Driver License and Identification Card Applications, Cal. DMV, https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/

  7. 74

    13 Cal. Code Regs. § 15.04(c); see also Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens (Publication No. 05-10096), Soc. Sec. Admin. (Aug. 2013).

  8. 75

    13 Cal. Code Regs. § 15.04(c). Note: The DMV will take your information and double-check your status, then complete your application. See https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffd108.htm.

  9. 76

    Driver License and Identification Card Information, Cal. DMV, http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#BDLP.

  10. 77

    13 Cal. Code Regs. § 15.00(a).

  11. 78

    13 Cal. Code Regs. § 15.00(e); see also Cal. DMV, http://www.dmv.ca.gov. The information about requesting certification from CDCR is based on a telephone call with Rhonda Johnson, Supervisor at the CDCR Archives Unit (Jan. 21, 2015).

  12. 79

    13 Cal. Code Regs. § 15.00(d).

  13. 80

    13 Cal. Code Regs. § 15.00(b).

  14. 81

    13 Cal. Code Regs. § 15.00(e).

  15. 82

    How to apply for or renew an identification (ID) card, Cal. DMV, http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#idrenew. If you are homeless or in transition, provide the address of a shelter, transitional housing, P.O. box, family, or trusted friend where you can securely receive mail.

  16. 83

    How to apply for or renew an identification (ID) card, Cal. DMV, http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#idrenew.

  17. 84

    Reduced fee ID card, Cal. DMV, http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#idcard_reducedfee, Driver License/Identification Card Application Fees, Cal. DMV, http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/fees/driverlicense_fees.htm.

  18. 85

    13 Cal. Code Regs. § 15.07.

  19. 86

    13 Cal. Code Regs. § 15.07.

  20. 87

    Reduced fee ID card, Cal. DMV, http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#idcard_reducedfee.

  21. 88

    Cal.Vehicle Code § 14902;13 CCR § 15.08.

  22. 89

    13 CCR § 15.08; McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 11301 et seq.)

  23. 90

    It expires on the sixth birthday you have after it is issued. Cal. Veh. Code § 13002.

  24. 91

    Cal. Veh. Code §§ 12800-12801, 12801.9.